My oldest daughter, Jennifer, asked me an interesting question the other day — “I wonder if the adjective ‘grim’ came into use after the brothers Grimm wrote their stories?” We’d been discussing German fairy tales after I shared my discovery of some Grimm titles I’d never heard of before.
I was excited to discover fairy tales titled “Hans My Hedgehog” and “The Hare and the Hedgehog” in the 1812 publication — “Children and Household Tales” — by brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Jennifer has a thing for hedgehogs and was delighted to learn they fare well in Grimm tales. She worried they might “be made into soup.”
Some pretty scary things occurred in those original tales, which were later pared down to a more child-friendly collection of 50 stories. Today they live on in books, movies, songs and more. Several Valley theater companies are presenting fairy tales, most by the brothers Grimm, during the 2011-2012 season.
For the little ones, Great Arizona Puppet Theater presents “Goldilocks” July 27-Aug 14 and “The Elves and the Shoemaker’ Nov 30-Dec 24. The famous folktale “The Little Red Hen,” likely of Russian origin, comes the GAPT in Phoenix Nov 9-27. It’s fun to pull this last one out when teens decide they want to have clean clothes and a full fridge without making friends with the washing machine or stove.
East Valley Children’s Theatre presents “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” a Grimm fairy tale originally titled “The Worn-out Dancing Shoes,” Sept 29-Oct 9 at the Mesa Arts Center. This adaptation was written by Claudia Haas.
Jennifer remembers a light blue-colored CD I bought the year she was home schooled. It contained fairy tale songs, including one about the twelve dancing princesses. Funny how our children remember these small details, especially when it seems at the time like they’re not paying all that much attention.
Some better known fairy tales are coming to Valley stages as well. “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” is being performed by Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Mesa through Aug 6, and by Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale next year (March 3-April 1).
The youth theater at Fountain Hills Community Theatre presents “The Elves & the Shoemaker” Dec 2-18. The youth theater at Theater Works in Peoria presents “Pinocchio” March 9-25, 2012. Their Puppet Works folks will perform “The Magical Adventures of Pinocchio” each Saturday in March.
Hale Children’s Theatre in Gilbert is performing “Pinocchio” every Saturday through Aug 20. The show makes a great birthday party option because “each birthday boy or girl is presented with a special gift from the Blue Fairy on stage.”
East Valley Children’s Theatre presents “The Story of Hansel and Gretel” at Mesa Arts Center June 14-24, 2012. It’s one of my personal favorites because I recall Jennifer performing in “Hansel and Gretel” with Greasepaint Youtheatre during elementary school.
She was an angel, a gingerbread cookie and a young girl. It was the year I went to our local pottery painting studio to make her a star-shaped jewelry box in gingerbread cookie colors — and spent countless hours painting glow in the dark halos and colorful gingerbread suit buttons. She also performed in Greasepaint’s “Pinocchio” that season.
We take these experiences for granted when our children are younger, and it’s not always possible to know in the moment whether the things we’re sharing with them have much staying power. But after talking fairy tales with Jennifer the other day, I know that both the fairy tales — and all those years of parenting — will be with her for a lifetime.
Coming up: Musings on Hans Christian Andersen, The fine art of hedgehogs, Culture meets comics, Cinderella tales